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Baptist Activist’s Political Comeback Falls Short

A disgraced former state legislator in Texas, who has spent years as a conservative Christian activist, failed in his effort at political redemption.
 

Former state representative Rick Green lost a primary runoff election Tuesday to decide the Republican nominee for the Texas Supreme Court.

 

Green, who has a law degree from the University of Texas but virtually no legal experience, faced Debra Lehrmann, who is a family district court judge in Fort Worth. Lehrmann highlighted Green’s lack of experience during the short runoff campaign.

 

“Betty Crocker may be a great cook, but that doesn’t mean that she should be flying an airplane or performing surgery or sitting on the Supreme Court,” she argued.

 

Green placed first in a divided primary race in March but received just less than 19 percent of the vote – far from the 50 percent mark needed to garner the nomination. Green and three of the other five candidates were separated by less than 1 percentage point, with the top two advancing to the runoff election. Since every member of the Texas Supreme Court is currently a Republican, Tuesday’s Republican runoff was a crucial contest.

 

Green, a Baptist, served two terms as a Republican state representative. However, his time was marred with multiple scandals. As a result, Texas Monthly named him one of the 10 “worst legislators.”

 

In 2001, Green came under fire for taping in his congressional office an endorsement for part of an infomercial for the nutritional supplement Focus Factor. Green later admitted it was a mistake to allow the filming to be done in his office. In 2004, the marketers of Focus Factor paid a $1 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission for making misleading claims about the product.

 

In 2002, Green and another lawmaker were criticized for successfully lobbying the Texas Department of Health not to place strict limitations on the ephedrine products of Metabolife International. The actions of the lawmakers sparked an investigation since laws at the time barred legislators from making such appeals. The company had numerous legal problems since then and filed for bankruptcy protection; its founder went to prison.

 

Green also faced criticism for successfully arguing for parole for a man who loaned $400,000 to one of Green’s companies. Green claims the money was repaid.

 

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Green was featured in the documentary “Last Man Standing,” which aired on PBS. The film covered the 2002 campaign, following both Green and his Democratic opponent, Patrick Rose. Green lost the election by less than 1 percentage point.

 

The film notes Green’s legislative scandals and his religiously themed political rhetoric. In one scene, he is seen speaking in a church against the principle of separation of church and state. In another scene, Green attacked Islam and promoted Christianity during a campaign fundraiser.

 

At a couple of points during the campaign, Green is seen joking about wanting to punch his opponent.

 

“You know, he’s just lucky I want to be a deacon someday,” Green told supporters on election night as he swung a campaign sign like a bat. “You know that Scripture about you can’t be a striker and be a deacon; that’s the only thing saving his rear.”

 

However, four years later as Green went to vote at Sunset Canyon Baptist Church in Dripping Springs, he had an argument with Rose, who was running for a second re-election, and hit Rose several times.

 

“It was the first real punch I had thrown since I was a kid, but it sent him to the ground,” Green wrote about the incident in his 2009 self-published book. “I guess if I do ever run for office again, we will have a great slogan for the next campaign: ‘He’ll fight for Texas!'”

 

Rose filed a complaint with the Hays County sheriff’s office. Green pled to misdemeanor assault charges, paying a fine and receiving six months of probation.

 

In 2001, while still a state legislator, Green started working for the conservative Christian organization WallBuilders. The organization was founded by David Barton, who played an influential role in crafting controversial social studies standards recently approved by the Texas Board of Education. Barton, who advocates for accounts of American history to include greater Christian content, has admitted to using unverifiable quotations in his attempts to prove his arguments.

 

Green and Barton co-host the radio program “WallBuilders Live!” Barton has recently been featured on Glenn Beck’s Fox News program, and both Green and Barton speak to churches across the nation to promote their interpretation of U.S. history.

 

On his campaign Web site, Green featured endorsements from Chuck Norris, Zig Ziglar and Paul Pressler. In his campaign speeches, he highlighted his conservative beliefs and reached out to conservative Christians.

 

At a Tea Party rally last year, Green declared that “we are firing the first shots of the second American Revolution right here in Texas.”

 

Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.